The word ‘disruptive’ is thrown around to a nauseating degree these days, like a chubby child in a particularly punchy spell of mid-air turbulence. But, in the case of Primera Air, the tag fits the baggage.
For too long the elders of air travel have held a monopoly on transatlantic flights, with sky-high fares that offered little to the frugal traveller (not to mention the gentleman looking for a last minute jaunt over to East Coast.)
Now, however, young pretenders like Primera Air have stepped in to upset the balance. With one way flights starting as little as £149, they are a realistic proposition for those of us who don’t like to trade an arm and a leg for our square foot of legroom.
The seats are comfortable
We tried both Light (read: economy) and Comfort (closer to premium economy) fares, and found both comfortable and relaxing in their own ways. In the better value seats you get a reclining chair, a USB power socket and 10kg of cabin baggage. The Comfort seats, though about £100 a pop extra, are enveloping, truly comfortable nigh-on armchairs near the front of the plane that come with a proper power port
There’s no in-flight entertainment, but savvy travellers often travel with an iPad (other brands of tablet are available, of course) loaded to the gills with movies and television shows anyway. (Our own personal NY-inspired recommendations: Midnight Cowboy and, why not, Coyote Ugly.)
All in all, a thoroughly relaxing experience, with more legroom and seat-width than some of the pricier options. Primera’s economy seats ares 18in wide with 30in-32in of legroom, depending on your row. On BA’s latest Dreamliner, the economy seats are 17.5in wide, with 31in of legroom. You do the maths.
The service is impeccable
Despite the no-frills billing, the Primera staff were all sweetness and light on both our outbound and return flights. Smiley, helpful and endlessly accommodating, they had the air of people who genuinely enjoy what the do.
They were excellent with the younger patrons on the flight, and ran the cabin with a smooth but relaxed efficiency.
The food does not taste like plane food
Airline food is rarely a Michelin Star experience. But this offering stood up neatly to the established players. We had an excellent chicken in tomato sauce, with real (!) mashed potato and roasted vegetables that were as good as you could expect at home.
The air conditioning and altitude of flying deadens and numbs even the most delicate tastebuds, but out Comfort-class meal had enough punch, seasoning and natural flavour to leave us satisfied. In the Light seats, the food was decent sandwich-shop fare, but far more reasonably priced than the competitors.
The value is outstanding
The real sell here, however, is how much money you can save. And for this, we’ll let the numbers do the talking. For a weekend in September (‘fall’ is perhaps the best time to visit the Big Apple, in our experience) Primera would charge you around £280 for a return flight.
Here’s how that compares to the other players:
British Airways: £411
Virgin Atlantic: £400
Thomas Cook: £390
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